Creating an environment where employees feel like their work contributes to a higher purpose is one of the most effective strategies for improving employee engagement. Your company's higher purpose should grow organically from your values, which act as the guiding light for how your company engages with the world.
However, simply having corporate values is not enough to improve employee engagement or create the vibrant workplace. Common pitfalls that can hinder employee engagement include:
- Failure to clarify and communicate company values with employees
- Failure to tie company initiatives to company values
- Failure to involve employees in efforts to build or demonstrate company values
Thankfully, businesses can overcome these challenges and foster an engaging, meaningful work environment with just a few simple changes.
1. Align internal and external efforts around your values
To have meaningful company values, you must "walk the talk" and showcase your values in everything you do. This means new product developments, partnerships, employee programs and more should all relate back to your company values in one way or another. Consistently upholding these values will solidify them in the day-to-day experiences of your employees, creating a stronger connection between the work they're doing and its higher purpose.
If you're not sure where to start, corporate giving can provide a great jumping off point to demonstrate your company values both internally and externally. A well-designed giving strategy will:
- Actively engage employees with your values through giving efforts
- Effectively communicate your values to your customers
2. Create strategic partnerships
Your company's partnerships play a big role in strengthening — or weakening — your values. Broadly, these partnerships include everyone from the manufacturers, vendors, employees and other strategic partners that you bring into your organization. If you underpin these partnerships with your company values, you're much more likely to find the "right fit," leading to longer lasting, more rewarding relationships.
At 1% for the Planet, we've found that nonprofit partnerships built on shared values are more effective at improving employee engagement because they create more meaningful opportunities for employees to get involved. Additionally, these partnerships tend to last longer, allowing employees to engage more deeply in the long-term strategic and philanthropic goals of the partnership.
3. Build a value-driven brand story
When your company values are strong, it's easy to build a value-driven brand story. For example, Thousand, a 1% for the Planet business member, has valued giving back to the planet since the company was founded in 2015. To engage employees with this mission, the company has given each of its employees the opportunity to donate $1,000 to a nonprofit partner of their choice since 2019.
To weave these efforts into its value-driven brand story, Thousand profiles each team member and their chosen nonprofit on social media, in email blasts and in a blog post hosted on the Thousand website.
This unique giving strategy helps Thousand solidify company values in a personalized way for each employee, and creates alignment between employees' individual values and the company's values overall.
"Our 1% commitment helps each of our team members build a tangible connection between Thousand’s company values and the causes/nonprofits each person cares cares about." - Gloria Hwang, Co-founder, Thousand
While this is just one example of how to build a value-based brand story, there are numerous other opportunities to create a story that speaks authentically to who you are and connects with your employees and customers.
Improving employee engagement with company values
With strong company values, it's easy for employees to build a meaningful emotional connection to their work. Improving employee engagement through value-based initiatives creates long-term employee engagement that strengthens company culture, retains top talent and attracts stronger applicants.